Coney Island dead? Naw!





Coney Island was looking pretty good for being dead. A new gear had been put on the Wonder Wheel. The sun licked at the windows of the Freak Bar. There was the smell of fresh-laid paint.

But the condolence calls kept coming: disbelief from Boston, despondency from London. Friends came by on maudlin visits. Ferris wheel lovers sent their deep regrets.

“My own mother calls from Tucson — true story,” said Kenneth Hochman, a marketing executive who does a lot of work in Coney Island. “And she’s from Brooklyn, mind you.” Just the sort of woman who keeps track.

“So she calls a couple of months ago and says: ‘What? You didn’t tell me Coney Island closed?’ ” Indignant rimshot. “My own mother,” he said.

Last September, when the Astroland amusement park, a three-acre sliver of the area, was shut down in a battle with its landlord, erroneous reports went out around the world that all of Coney Island was a corpse. Overnight, it seemed, obituaries were composed. Carnie barkers were invited to their own wakes.


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